The Car:

Price: $37,525 as tested (including destination charge)
Engine: 5.0-liter V-8, 420 horsepower
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Fuel economy: 15 mpg city/26 mpg highway
My favorite standard feature: LED sequential taillamps
Option I can’t live without: GT Track package ($2,495)
You might also be considering: Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger

See more specs on the Mustang in our Car Guide.

Syb_fordmustang_01

What I Think:

If you hang around long enough with people who like cars, you’ll eventually hear someone say, “It’s better to drive a slow car fast than a fast car slow!” to general nods of agreement. I’ve said it myself, and I never miss an opportunity to drive my slow car with reckless abandon. But after spending a weekend in a 2014 Ford Mustang GT, I can report with certainty that the best thing of all is to drive a fast car fast.

The Mustang GT may have four wheels and an engine, but, like all Mustangs, it’s more than just a car. It has fifty years of pony car heritage behind it. It’s the kind of car little kids imagine they’ll own some day, the kind of car people ask for rides in and take pictures of. And the 2014 Mustang GT deserves that respect. It’s not that there’s nothing to complain about—ask anyone who’s tried to squeeze into the back seat. It’s just that it’s so @#*%@ fun that you don’t care.

Syb_fordmustang_04The 2014 Mustang comes in three flavors: V6, GT, and Shelby GT500. All three are available as coupes or convertibles, and the V6 and GT variants can come as base or Premium models. Premium Mustangs come equipped with a few more comfort features than the base models, including a power passenger’s seat, a Shaker sound system, Sync with AppLink, and a 4.2-inch LCD message center. Options on the Premium model include heated front seats (Comfort package, $650) and navigation (Electronics package, $2,340). The V6 models get their power from a 305-horsepower V-6 engine. All GT models use a 5.0-liter V-8, while the ultra-performance Shelby GT500 models use a 5.8-liter supercharged V-8 to make an astounding 662 horsepower.

The Mustang GT’s key feature is its V-8 engine, which makes 420 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. The engine produces an intoxicating, burbling exhaust note that I liked so much that I often avoided shifting into the higher gears when cruising around town, just so I could hear the engine noise in the cabin.

Our test car came with the GT’s standard manual transmission, which was smooth and easy to operate. The GT is available with an automatic transmission, but I wouldn’t give up the control and engagement of a stick for anything, not even the three extra city mpg that drivers of automatic GTs get.

The manual Mustang GT is rated at 19 mpg combined, a figure I didn’t quite manage during my weekend. (I averaged 18.6 mpg with a mix of city and highway driving.) A more sedate driving style would likely solve that problem, but then you’d miss out on the full-throttle accelerations that make this car worth all the minor inconveniences. I didn’t get the chance to do much cornering in the Mustang, but I could tell that it would be a dream donut car with the traction control turned off.

Syb_fordmustang_06Like most small sports cars, the Mustang GT is far from practical. It has a rear seat, but it’s really more of a luggage rack than anything else. The Mustang's rear-wheel-drive setup means it might not be a wise choice for drivers who have to weather snowy winters—although it's worth noting that I drove it through heavy rain completely without incident. The interior wouldn’t pass muster in any other $37,000 car; it’s a study in black plastic. The $1,595 Recaro sport seats may keep driver and passenger from sliding around on tight corners, but they’re not particularly comfortable or attractive. The radio and CD player look like something straight out of 2005. That might be a blessing in disguise, though: Ford’s MyFord Touch infotainment system has endured tough criticism since its introduction in 2011.

The Verdict:

So, should you buy it? No, probably not. It’s not practical, it’s not efficient, and it’s not comfortable. On the other hand, neither are any of its direct competitors. If you’re looking for practical, comfortable, and efficient, you’re already looking elsewhere. If you’re looking for fast, fun, and, yes, a little unrefined, look at the Mustang GT. If you love the way Mustangs look but can't quite get over the fuel economy ratings, the V6 model, with its 31 mpg highway, could be worth a look. As for the Shelby GT500: 662 horsepower seems gratuitous, but then again, that's kind of the point.

Peanut Gallery:

Molly: The Mustang made its debut the year after I was born. By the time I was in high school, 1960s muscle cars, especially Mustangs, gave their drivers a lot of street cred in my small rural hometown. In fact, I dated one guy specifically because he had a Mustang. (It was summer.) The interior of the 2014 Mustang GT has kept the candle burning for the original aesthetic, so much so that I think I can still smell smoke in the air. But, since the 2005 redesign, Ford has been honing this thoroughly modern Mustang. The choice of speedometer and rpm dials perfectly incorporates the design cues of the car's forefathers. I regret that I did not get to drive it at night to see them glow. The massive black dash seems sort of cheap in comparison with some modern materials that are available to designers, but I appreciate the nod to the old-school style. I believe that the choice of materials will help this car lend itself to being someone's collector Mustang.

Syb_fordmustang_07Laura: My dad bought one of the first Mustangs in 1965. Because of the commercial that was everywhere at the time, in which people on the street corner shouted "Mmmustang!" as the lucky driver went past, I remember people actually doing that to us when we drove by in our white six-cylinder coupe. At the time, our family included three kids aged ten and under, so it was a stretch to fit everyone inside. (That's okay; our other family car was a Corvair.) This early experience and a life lived in southeastern Michigan make me like the Ford Mustang almost automatically. I appreciate the black-on-black styling of the one we tested, and I would definitely get the 5.0-liter GT or not get a Mustang at all. The sound it makes probably still says "Mmmustang!" to some people; I felt Mmmortified at the racket I was kicking up, but there's no doubt it sounds just as exciting as it feels. No false advertising here!

Jean: Until just a few years ago, Mustangs were old shoes with big motors. Rude, crude, and a laugh riot to drive. Now they are as hot to look at as they are to drive. Make mine a 5.0 GT or a Shelby. The Mustang logo ought to have a cartoon Road Runner cyclone around its hooves. Giddyup!